Big Rapids, Michigan
After the cavernous Schott of Ohio State, I was in for a 180 degree turn of events when I walked into the home of the Ferris State University Bulldogs. In a word, the rink is intimate.
Ewigleben officially seats 2493. It has a very low ceiling, and one side of the rink has the two benches and the two penalty boxes between the benches. There are no seats on that side. A very unique arena.
My seat was in the front row, which I rarely like to do, but in this case, I certainly got immersed into the Bulldog cult, so it was probably worth it. I did have a great view of the ice.
The student section, or “The Dawg Pound”
As for the game: The Bowling Green Falcons were in town for game one of a two game series. The first period play was fast, and we saw some very good hockey. Tyler Andrew scored the only goal in the period for the Bulldogs, assisted by Rob Rutkowski and Zach Szajner. I thought Rutkowski had a good overall game on defense.
Tyler Spezia evened things up with a nice goal in the second for Bowling Green. Ferris answered 8 minutes later when Gerald Mayhew buried a pass by Corey Mackin. Mackin is a fun player to watch; he was all over the ice tonight.
Ferris seemingly had the game in control, until they took a 5 minute major for checking from behind. Bowling Green tied things up with a minute left in the penalty.
I had several young boys directly behind me, and at one point, when a Ferris player missed a wide open net, one of the boys, who was around 7 or 8, cried out in exasperation, “OH NUGGETS!” I damn near died laughing, which embarrassed the kid, but I couldn’t help it. Afterwards, when Ferris committed an offsides, or missed a pass, I would say “Nuggets!”, which caused the girl next to me to laugh hysterically. Her boyfriend, oddly enough, did not find me amusing.
The game went into overtime, and the Falcons ended the evening 34 seconds into the extra period on a score by Mark Friedman. A heartbreaking loss for Ferris State. No one had the heart to yell nuggets.
Chris Nell made 21 saves in the win; Justin Kapelmaster had 32 in the loss. The attendance was 1813.
Ewigleben is a tough arena to get any pictures of. I did not bring the Widelux, which really would have come in handy. I did climb up to the higher rows in between periods, just to get an idea of the rink’s layout. It is different, but provides a cool hockey experience.